Amparo Sánchez (formerly under her musical project Amparanoia) publishes now in this demoralizing SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 infected 2020 year her album ‘La Niña y el Lobo’ (‘The Little Girl and the Wolf’). The Volume-1-label means there will be a following CD, deepening on the complex core subject of her work.
Let’s do some quick rewinding on Amparo’s bio. She was born in 1969 in Alcalá La real (Jaén province, Andalusia, S-Spain), but she has developed her music career in places like Granada, Madrid, Marseille, Essaouira (Morocco), or Sant Pere de Ribes (Barcelona). Her band Amparanoia started in 1997, and became a success in the Hispanic alternative pop music world (Spain & South America), performing an effective fusion between: blues, soul, Latin-American folk, Mexican rancheras, boleros, flamenco, rumba, reggae,… to the point of getting the nickname of ‘The Spanish Manu Chao’ (Manu is already French-Spanish/Galician, but anyhow). Amparanoia broke up in 2008 after publishing around seven CDs, the last one named ‘Seguiré Caminando’ (‘I will keep walking’).
In 2010, Amparo Sánchez released her debut solo album Tucson-Habana, followed by ‘Alma de Cantora’ (‘Soul of Flamenco Singer’), featuring artists such as: Caléxico, Bebe, De Pedro, Mane Ferret, Arianna Puello, Muerdo, Howe Gelb & Charlat'58, and Bongo Botrako. In 2014 she published ‘Espíritu del Sol’ (‘Spirit of the Sun’). But regardless of her successful career, Amparo Sánchez’s life was not a walk in the park since her teenage years. She became a mother at the age of 16, suffering mistreatment from her man for around ten years. It was that painful lasting experience what explicitly justifies this title, ‘The Girl and the Wolf’.
‘La Niña y el Lobo’ is a compilation of ten songs very popular in the Spanish speaking world. Tunes with titles and subjects that seemingly connect with Amparo’s personal life experiences. The album starts with ‘Adoro’, a 1967 hit by the Mexican singer-songwriter Armando Manzanero. A fervent declaration of love with deeply felt voice and guitar, but the romance soon declines into dark and devious episodes. Just take the following Manu Chao’s ‘Mala Vida’ (‘Bad Life’), the 1988 hit from his band Mano Negra. Amparo develops it here as a flamenco rumba, with lyrics that directly describe the mistreatment suffered by the female singer, and her declared intention to run away. ‘Hace un Año’ is a song that became popular by the Mexican artist Antonio Aguilar, that describes the deception suffered by the singer “after one whole year” of unconditional love. Of course, in Amparo’s version the victim is female.
There is a blues-flamenco guitar version of ‘Han Caido los Dos’ (‘They have both fallen’), a regression to the days of ‘La Movida’ (Madrid’s underground rock/pop music movement in the mid-1980s), with Santiago Auseron’s band Radio Futura. But this time under Amparo’s personal perspective after a harsh life in common. Back to the eighties and back to Mexico (or Los Ángeles) with the hit from the emblematic and underrated Chicano rock band Los Lobos, ‘La Pistola y el Corazón’ (‘The Gun and the Heart’). Beautiful version with guitar and Amparo’s vocals.
The flamenco plucked strings and the Andalusian poetry from the 1970’s duo Lole y Manuel inspires Amparo’s version of ‘Un Cuento para mi Niño’ (‘A Tale for my Child’). A possible debate about Amparo not singing it with orthodox flamenco style (as Dolores ‘Lole’ Montoya used to), is a sterile path here since her end result does not diminish at all the charm and sadness of this tune. ‘Payaso’ (‘Clown’, J.Solís, F.Maldonando), back to the old & romantic Mexican standards, again sorrowful self-punishing lyrics, and plain but skillfully inspiring guitar. The guitarrists in La Niña y el Lobo are Víctor Iniesta-Iglesias and Eduardo Espín-Pacheco.
But then, after the lingering sequence of lament, glimmer and hope springs up at the end of this self-exorcism. ‘Gracias a la Vida’ (‘Thanks to Life’), the 1960’s song from the Chilean Violeta Parra (the one popularized by Mercedes Sosa and Joan Baez), puts closure to a forgettable life period, and optimism towards a new journey.
Photo Credits: (1)-(3) Amparo Sánchez (unknown/website).